By J. Hogan
-Gains & Gleanings-
It’s Springtime. The trees are budding, the sad, brown grass is turning green and growing again. Tulips and crocuses are popping up in gardens, one has even somehow gone off the reservation and popped up in my mother’s lawn, its bulb breaking the confines of her decorative front porch garden like Andy Dufresne busting out of Shawshank.
In a lot of ways this Spring, I think most of us feel like Andy Dufresne, chomping at the bit to reclaim the freedoms unfairly yanked from our lives over this past year by the madness of 2020’s mandates and viral fear.
Spring is, of course, the season of Passover — the Jewish celebration of God’s freeing action allowing the Israelites to leave slavery behind, sparing the Jewish households from death as God’s wrath was unleashed upon their Egyptian oppressors.
It’s also, more importantly to me, and I’d argue for everyone today, it’s the season of Easter, or, as I mostly refer to it, Resurrection Sunday.
More importantly, I believe, because in the gospel of John, Christ said “I am the way, the truth, and the life… no one comes to the father except through me.” If you want eternal life, He’s where you find it, and your resurrection is possible because of his resurrection.
On the broad socio-cultural front, we seem to be more in need of resurrection than ever.
We’ve spent a year watching our “leaders” flailing as they tried to, seemingly, both deal with a crisis and capitalize upon it. In the crossfire, families were destroyed, businesses lost, kids had their education truncated and diminished, landlords had tenants exempted from paying rent and they themselves fell behind on their mortgages.
Everyone was impacted, nearly everyone severely. For much of the population, fear and dread became the prevailing emotion, giving each day a dreary outlook. Some elderly folks passed away from run-of-the-mill natural causes after having not seen and interacted with their loved ones for months.
We also had a contentious, disputed election and shock-jock equivalent national entertainers formerly known as news anchors pouring gasoline on racial tensions to add to the misery.
They got higher ratings, politicians like Dr. Rachel Levine and New York’s Andrew Cuomo got rewarded for horrible decisions that crushed families and killed thousands of folks in care homes and the population got a year of misery.
Out of this ugly mess, some resurrection would certainly be nice.
Resurrect families from a year of ire and angst, resurrect the economy from a year of trouble for all but the biggest corporations, resurrect our spirits from anxiety and panic to a joy of living again.
Non-evangelicals often think of the term “born again” as a pejorative, as in “some crazy born-agains moved in next door and won’t shut up about Jesus.” (That’s me, by the way.) However, the term is more than just slang for Protestant Jesus Freak, it’s actually what Jesus told Nicodemus in John chapter 3, that one must be born again to see the Kingdom of God.
We all could use a fresh slate at this point, a new platform from which to gaze at today and hope for tomorrow. It’s been a rough go, but Jesus left that tomb empty after having been wronged, mocked, beaten, forced to bear an ugly, heavy splinter-laden burden up the hill upon which he was crucified upon that very burden — the most painful death the Romans could devise.
He knows something about rising again after having a really, really bad time.
Here’s to us finding resurrection during the season of the warm Spring breeze, being born again to thrive and enjoy life up from the ashes of a year that deserves to be left in our rearview mirror.
Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.